Special Needs Tuesday


I’m guest posting for this column since our usual columnist Kris-Ann is on vaca!

A friend and colleague of mine (thanks Amy!) sent me this article a few days ago and it really resonated with me. It’s called What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About ‘Having it All’ and it’s well worth the read.

The author walks us through what life is like for her raising a son with severe developmental disabilities. As an outsider, it’s easy to read about her life and automatically wonder – how does she do it? How does she cope with life? It’s also really easy to think, “Gosh, I’m really happy I’m not in her position.”

In fact, people ask her those very question all the time, even her son’s own doctor has asked her how she’s coping.

She is at peace with her life and dare I say, HAPPY. She understands that having a son with disabilities means she can’t go to the same restaurants her friends can go to and she knows that her life is significantly different than what she pictured for herself. But that doesn’t mean she’s sad, it doesn’t mean she sits around feeling badly for herself all the time. In fact, the total opposite is true.

In my opinion, she adds a whole new perspective to the debate about whether women, especially working moms, can “have it all” because her point is, that’s not even the correct question.

Instead, she suggests maybe we should ask ourselves, “do I have enough?”

From her article: ‘When I look at friends and acquaintances, many with perfectly beautiful children and wonderful lives, and see how desperately unhappy or stressed they are about balancing work and family, I think to myself that the solution to many problems is deceptively obvious. We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, “Can we have it all?” — with “all” being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, “Do we have enough?”‘

Think about that for a second. Instead of constantly fighting to “have it all” (however you define that for your life) what if instead we focused on asking ourselves if we have enough? Are we healthy? Are our kids healthy? Do we have a roof over our heads? Do we have enough food to eat? Most of us are fortunate that we can say yes to these questions. And if we focus on the positive, that we DO have enough, maybe that will change how we view our lives and we’ll be able to let go of this sometimes overwhelming desire to have it all (and the stress that accompanies it).

She closes with this: ‘For all the people who are puzzled by my seeming happiness, I’ll be glad to let them know my “secret.” I’m not in denial, I’m not on antidepressants, and I don’t live in a fantasy world. I have a wonderful husband and I am pursuing a career I’ve dreamed of since I was nine years old. I have a beautiful son, friends, and a working stove. I am not paraplegic. I have parents who, through luck and fate, had me here in the United States, and not in North Korea. I live in a time where my awful vision can be corrected with glasses. I am a college graduate. I am never hungry unless I choose to be. Do I have enough? Resoundingly: yes. And I ask you to take a moment: I suspect you might, too.’

What do you think? Do you have enough? Do you agree that that’s the real question we should ask ourselves? Weigh in!

3 comments on “Special Needs Tuesday”

  1. I read this article, too, and while I do agree with her sentiment, I find that it does sort of make us feel like it’s not ok to have a bad day without feeling like we’re ungrateful for all the wonderful blessings we have in our lives. I am certainly, CERTAINLY aware of how incredibly lucky I am to have a child AT ALL, let alone two. I am grateful for my incredible family, my home, the food on my table, our health. All of those things and a million more.

    However, that doesn’t mean I’m not human. That doesn’t mean I don’t have hardships that are difficult for me. Feelings aren’t right or wrong… they just ARE. And sometimes? Even in the face of all these blessings? I am tired. I am frustrated. I am angry and I am heartbroken.

    Do I need more than I have? Not even a tiny bit. I recognize that. I don’t even want it. OK. Maybe just a nap. But that’s ALL. 🙂

    1. I agree with you Steph. I can see how it can make people feel like it’s not OK to have a bad day. I also struggle at times with the whole “if you have your basic needs met then there’s nothing to be upset about” mentality because it feels like it diminishes or devalues how I feel when I’m frustrated. On the other hand, I do think she makes a good point about remaining positive about life.

      Thanks for sharing your feelings!

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